From atop an atoll in Kiribati—an island nation in the South Pacific poised to disappear forever beneath the rising seas—Samoan-born, New Zealand-based artist Lemi Ponifasio watched as birds flew, with shimmering strands of old videotape in their beaks. At once an image of beauty and an omen of the coming ecological tragedy, the sight led Ponifasio to wonder: What would the last dance on earth look like?
Bare torsos writhe quietly under a dim light. Fingers flutter on a stage covered in ash. In a space somewhere between ritual and theater, dance and activism, Birds With Skymirrors forges a renewed intimacy with our precarious present moment. Ponifasio’s company MAU performs this spellbinding appeal for human understanding, in which sacral gesture, light, and sound smolder together.